Theresa May has defended Boris Johnson after the Foreign Secretary compared the president of France to a Second World War camp guard in controversial Brexit comments.

Mr Johnson's remarks sparked international criticism and calls for the Prime Minister to distance herself from them.

The Foreign Secretary drew critical fire after being asked about reported comments by an aide to Francois Hollande that Britain should not expect a better trade relationship with Europe from outside the EU.

Mr Johnson replied: "If Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anyone who chooses to escape, rather in the manner of some World War Two movie, then I don't think that's the way forward.

"It's not in the interests of our friends or our partners."

Mrs May insisted that Mr Johnson had been making the same argument she put in her landmark Brexit speech.

The PM told the BBC: "The point that Boris was making was that, actually, it is in the interests of the countries who will remain in the European Union, and in the interests of the United Kingdom, to get a good trade deal, a trade deal that ensures we see the least possible disruption to our economies.

"The point that Boris was making was a clear one, it's a point that I made in my speech earlier this week."

In the aftermath of Mr Johnson's comments, the European Parliament's chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt branded the remarks "abhorrent" and called on Mrs May to condemn them.